January 2022 Reading Thread.

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Danny McG

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Funnily enough, I’ve had a similar thought recently to re-read this. It must be at least 35 years since I read it. I thought it was great back then - I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts now. I know it was my first Silverberg; I’ve read all his great 60’s/70’s novels much more recently (most within last 10 years or so).
Lord Valentine's Castle...
Like yourself I thought it was great the first time, now I found it really heavy going and dull, plus the dialogue was terribly stilted.
I'm afraid I ended up shaking my head and DNF
 

hitmouse

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Lord Valentine's Castle...
Like yourself I thought it was great the first time, now I found it really heavy going and dull, plus the dialogue was terribly stilted.
I'm afraid I ended up shaking my head and DNF
Same here.
 

Bick

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Lord Valentine's Castle...
Like yourself I thought it was great the first time, now I found it really heavy going and dull, plus the dialogue was terribly stilted.
I'm afraid I ended up shaking my head and DNF
That's a shame - oh well, I'll still give it a go again at some point, but it may have slipped down the pecking order in 'the pile'.
 

tachyon

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I re-read Lord Valentine's Castle relatively recently, I thought it held up with some allowances for more modern style and sensibility.
 

worldofmutes

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A fantastic book! For an 800-page Victorian novel, it's amazing how much it doesn't drag. Been a couple of decades since I read it, but Becky Sharp and Amelia Sedley are still as fresh in my mind as if I read it yesterday.
It was really special, although many would speculate I read the book too fast, didn’t really let it sift. But here I am, taking care of a senile old lady with a lot of time on my hands. So when I read a big book I push it lest I fall out of interest.

Here’s a review I wrote on my blog (obligatory instagram page):

I’m a bit of a dilettante myself.
Very dense, lot of detail and English panache.

Thackeray’s classic novel Vanity Fair follows a lengthy cast of characters, but the most important I’d say are- Rebecca Sharp (Crawley), Amelia Sedley (Osbourne), George Osbourne, Esq. and, Major William Dobbins. These characters are all entwined in the cynicism of being rich bourgeoisie- and all of the petty gossip that goes with it. Rebecca becomes a Governess to the Crawley estate, and marries their son Rawdon- to elder Mrs. Crawley’s discontent. When Sir Pitt leaves an inheritance to Pitt jr., and none whatsoever to Rawdon, the pair are left with very little to live by, and a son to take care of whom Becca cares nothing for. Rebecca finds work on the Gaunt estate, singing in a harem. This brings turmoil to their relationship.

Meanwhile, Amelia loves George, and Dobbins loves Amelia, and Dobbins can’t have her, so takes a sabbatical to Bombay. These two men are bonded from youth and Amelia could never see him as anything but a brother. When First Consul Napoleon’s skirmish in Waterloo takes George way too soon, all Amelia has in his name is her son, Georgy, and a piano. But Amelia’s father is deeply in debt to Osbourne’s father, George Osbourne Sr., and her son is spiteful of his mother, being a ******* to her himself, and also enjoys the riches of his grandfather Osbourne.

I got really lost during the Brussels/Waterloo sequence, but then I watched the movie and although it was only a shallow interpretation, it became clear that those characters (Briggs, etc.) weren’t very important anyway.
 

hitmouse

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It was really special, although many would speculate I read the book too fast, didn’t really let it sift. But here I am, taking care of a senile old lady with a lot of time on my hands. So when I read a big book I push it lest I fall out of interest.

Here’s a review I wrote on my blog (obligatory instagram page):

I’m a bit of a dilettante myself.
Very dense, lot of detail and English panache.

Thackeray’s classic novel Vanity Fair follows a lengthy cast of characters, but the most important I’d say are- Rebecca Sharp (Crawley), Amelia Sedley (Osbourne), George Osbourne, Esq. and, Major William Dobbins. These characters are all entwined in the cynicism of being rich bourgeoisie- and all of the petty gossip that goes with it. Rebecca becomes a Governess to the Crawley estate, and marries their son Rawdon- to elder Mrs. Crawley’s discontent. When Sir Pitt leaves an inheritance to Pitt jr., and none whatsoever to Rawdon, the pair are left with very little to live by, and a son to take care of whom Becca cares nothing for. Rebecca finds work on the Gaunt estate, singing in a harem. This brings turmoil to their relationship.

Meanwhile, Amelia loves George, and Dobbins loves Amelia, and Dobbins can’t have her, so takes a sabbatical to Bombay. These two men are bonded from youth and Amelia could never see him as anything but a brother. When First Consul Napoleon’s skirmish in Waterloo takes George way too soon, all Amelia has in his name is her son, Georgy, and a piano. But Amelia’s father is deeply in debt to Osbourne’s father, George Osbourne Sr., and her son is spiteful of his mother, being a ******* to her himself, and also enjoys the riches of his grandfather Osbourne.

I got really lost during the Brussels/Waterloo sequence, but then I watched the movie and although it was only a shallow interpretation, it became clear that those characters (Briggs, etc.) weren’t very important anyway.
The 1998 BBC series is much better than the film.
 

soulsinging

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Finished The Farthest Shore and it was excellent. This trilogy was so much better than I'd remembered. It's creepy and mournful and I like how throughout there's a sense that despite the epic heroism, our protagonists are tiny, tiny beings on a vast, ancient planet. It's the dragons' world, and we just live in it.

Now carrying on with the Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon.
 

REBerg

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One of my earliest SF reading memories, I've probably read it again half a dozen times over the intervening years (decades!)
I don't doubt that The Big Time is brilliant on some level that I am either unwilling and/or incapable of reaching.
Spiders and snakes battling to control the winds of time change outside "the place" did make me wonder if this work had influenced the concept of the Doctor Who TARDIS.
 

Toby Frost

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I read The Distance, a thriller by my friend Helen Giltrow. It's not my usual sort of thing but I enjoyed it. It was about expert criminals manipulating events in an experimental prison. It struck me as almost science fiction: it could very nearly have been cyberpunk, and reminded me of Green River Rising by Tim Willocks and the film Escape from New York.

I'm now on the second Dragonlance book, Dragons of Winter Night. In a lot of ways it's bad: there's head-hopping all over the place, all the women are ridiculously beautiful, the wizard is even more OTT, and characters frequently threaten to stab each other with hauberks. And yet it's quite a good laugh, and moves at decent speed, and the writing is a bit better than the previous book. There's always something going on, even if it is something crazy.
 

tobl

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I read The Distance, a thriller by my friend Helen Giltrow. It's not my usual sort of thing but I enjoyed it. It was about expert criminals manipulating events in an experimental prison. It struck me as almost science fiction: it could very nearly have been cyberpunk, and reminded me of Green River Rising by Tim Willocks and the film Escape from New York.
you mean like that stupid psychological prison experiment?
 

Parson

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At about the 50% finished level I gave up on There Will Be Time by Poul Anderson. When it was written it was likely seen as way ahead of it's time environmentally, and on that level it's still acceptable. But I found the history to be not well researched and the story much less than compelling. So when I ask "Why am I reading this?" and I don't have a good answer, I discard it. And so I did.
 

Bick

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At about the 50% finished level I gave up on There Will Be Time by Poul Anderson. When it was written it was likely seen as way ahead of it's time environmentally, and on that level it's still acceptable. But I found the history to be not well researched and the story much less than compelling. So when I ask "Why am I reading this?" and I don't have a good answer, I discard it. And so I did.
Confirms my hypothesis that if I really like a book, you won’t. ;)
I felt it was well researched and engrossing.
 

Parson

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Confirms my hypothesis that if I really like a book, you won’t. ;)
I felt it was well researched and engrossing.
I'm a little embarrassed about this. I like the things you say about the books you read. But I do agree that at least the last one or two books you've reviewed positively and I've then taken it upon myself to read, because what you say sounds very good to me, I haven't clicked with. But please do not stop reviewing what you've been reading. I do rather wonder if it works the opposite way as well. Have you read something that I loved, but you didn't? Two books I think very highly of (rare 5 stars from me) would be Ender's Game and All Systems Red (The Murderbot Diaries), maybe you feel something else about them.

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I have begun The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowall. It is the first of an alternate timeline stories in "A Lady Astronaut Novel" series. I always struggle with books propose an alternate timeline in the past, and this one starts right after World War II with "President Dewey" but so far the story is making up for my immediate frowns on what has "supposed" to have happened.
 
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pogopossum

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Just to clarify, I'm not having a go at library staff..
Didn't think you were. And just to clarify, I went from the dogsbody who filed cards in the catalog to becoming the regional manager over six libraries in the most highly rated library system in the USA.
Along with health care professions, libraries were (are?) the largest employers of highly educated women in the US. They were also historically an employer of highly educated non-Caucasions at a time when the rest of society didn't give a ---- about hiring people based on qualifications and smarts.
Most of my colleagues actually enjoyed helping people. And where I worked that was the commonality.
And many used their educations to go elsewhere using their skills to become researchers or managers in other fields.
Which seems to be your assumption , that capable people would move on. Not always.
By the way. Didn't enjoy management. Went back to being a reference librarian.
 

tachyon

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DNF'd You Sexy Thing by Cat Rambo - far-future science/fantasy in space, multiple alien species, FTL, also magic... Hardscrabble space captain with a heart of gold, on the run from dark secrets in her past. A quirky crew of humans and aliens with their own problems, skills and abilities. Mysterious prophecy, stolen ship, evil forces, etc. Also cooking for some reason.

Seemed like it might be a fun light quick read but the plot never felt like it was earning my suspension of disbelief, and once the big bad of the novel is revealed there's a long sequence of torture porn establishing his bona fides as a Really Evil Guy that I just wasn't interested in following through with.

Dropped about 3/4ths in.

Next up is Finder by Suzanne Palmer - also SF.
 

Vertigo

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I have begun The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowall. It is the first of an alternate timeline stories in "A Lady Astronaut Novel" series. I always struggle with books propose an alternate timeline in the past, and this one starts right after World War II with "President Dewey" but so far the story is making up for my immediate frowns on what has "supposed" to have happened.
I usually actively dislike alternate history books, and so ignored this one for a long time, but finally gave in after enough good reviews from people I respect and now it has to be my favourite of the sub genre that I've ever read. Very glad I went for it even if the anti-discriminatory bias felt a little overdone to my taste.
 

williamjm

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Finished The Farthest Shore and it was excellent. This trilogy was so much better than I'd remembered. It's creepy and mournful and I like how throughout there's a sense that despite the epic heroism, our protagonists are tiny, tiny beings on a vast, ancient planet. It's the dragons' world, and we just live in it.
I really liked this quote from it:
And though I came to forget or regret all I have ever done, yet I would remember that once I saw the dragons aloft on the wind at sunset above the western isles; and I would be content.
It does a good job of capturing the 'sense of wonder'.
 
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